5 Small Tips to Enhance Your Fiction Writing

Have you fin­ished your first draft? Or sec­ond or third? If so, then maybe you’re look­ing for a few ways to punch up your writ­ing. Try out these five tips.
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Sen­sory Description

If you wish to cre­ate a richer, more vibrant, and more tan­gi­ble scene for your reader, try adding vivid, sen­sory description.

Instead of telling us: The swords hit, what about: The swords clanged sharply, leav­ing a dull ring­ing in the knight’s ears. Let’s say you were writ­ing about a boy who was embar­rassed at school while attempt­ing to solve a prob­lem at the chalk­board. Instead of: The boy felt uncom­fort­able the next week at school, maybe try: The moment the child caught the thick smell of chalk, his stom­ach turned and he felt queasy.

Smell, Taste, and Touch are the main senses often over­looked in descrip­tions, but just how well and how often the reader per­ceives the visu­als and audio of your story’s world can often be over­es­ti­mated. The image or sound in your head won’t be present in the reader’s head unless you tell them specif­i­cally what you want them to visu­al­ize or hear.

Stream­line

Many sen­tences and para­graphs can be tight­ened, trimmed, and short­ened to cre­ate clearer, more under­stand­able prose.

For exam­ple, you can often cut out adverbs or replace them with bet­ter verbs. For exam­ple: I ran quickly ver­sus I sprinted. The lat­ter has less words and paints a quicker, clearer image in the reader’s head. Of course, the dif­fer­ence may be minute in many instances, but a lot of stream­lin­ing adds up over hun­dreds of pages and can greatly enhance your over­all story.

Pri­or­ity List

If you are lag­ging behind in com­plet­ing your story, try mak­ing a pri­or­ity list. Num­ber the items from the most to the least impor­tant that you need to accom­plish to com­plete your story.

  1. Decide on an ending
  2. Decide on cut­ting chap­ter five
  3. Make the twist in chap­ter two not com­pletely obvious
  4. Add a flash­back for the villain
  5. Write the last scene in chap­ter seven

Take your whole work into account. If you’re at the begin­ning stages of the writ­ing process, writ­ing the mid­dle miss­ing chap­ters is going to be higher pri­or­ity than the gram­mat­i­cal edit­ing that you maybe find your­self labor­ing over for hours. Those gram­mar prob­lems will prob­a­bly be changed any­way if you are still early in the process.

Even if your are toward the end of the writ­ing process, still take every­thing you need to accom­plish into con­sid­er­a­tion. So let’s say that gram­mat­i­cal edit­ing is on the list at this point. Debat­ing whether you want to switch the order of two chap­ters should still be higher on the list. You only have so much time after all, and thus you should start with the most impor­tant tasks to com­plete your work. Don’t get hung up with what you know how to fix, but rather fix what needs fix­ing to cre­ate a bet­ter story.

Keep the Reader in Mind

Your story will greatly ben­e­fit if you ask your­self before start­ing: What do I want my reader to get out of this scene?

Maybe you want your reader to be shocked and awed at a twist: the protagonist’s hus­band long thought dead is actu­ally alive and faked his own death. So, you would want to take out the part in that scene where you have your pro­tag­o­nist have a flash­back about a humor­ous sum­mer camp tal­ent show some thirty years prior. It doesn’t serve to your purpose.

This is not to say, you can’t have ran­dom, mean­der­ing scenes. And, some­times it’s good to just write, let­ting it pour quickly out of you. But, it is very ben­e­fi­cial and effec­tive to sim­ply know what you are writ­ing and why—at least on some level. Keep­ing the reader in mind just helps your con­scious and uncon­scious mind focus on what you really want to achieve with your writing.

Plau­si­bil­ity

I’m sure it made per­fect sense at the time when your detec­tive was search­ing for clues and just hap­pened to find an incrim­i­nat­ing tiny spot of blood on some flow­ers in the cor­ner of a mas­sive library because at that par­tic­u­lar moment he had a flash­back about how he had solved a mys­tery as a child involv­ing flow­ers and he thought, Huh, maybe…

Implau­si­bil­ity in sto­ries sticks out to the reader the same way bad CG sticks out to movie audi­ences. Some­times the view­ers can’t tell exactly where the prob­lem lies with the CG, but they usu­ally can tell right away whether what they are see­ing looks fake or not. You don’t want your reader stop­ping mid-scene and say­ing: “Yeah right!”

To help you spot what is implau­si­ble in your story, try not work­ing on your story, think­ing about it, or writ­ing any part of it for a day or two, or for how­ever long it takes your mind to stop rac­ing about it.

This inter­mit­tent time will sift out the ran­dom ideas and stray con­cepts you had jum­bling around in your mind, leav­ing just what is actu­ally on the page. After you are able to see the for­est from the trees, reread your work casu­ally, not­ing which parts seem implau­si­ble or straight out ridicu­lous. Then, refo­cus your writ­ing on these parts.

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Do you have some use­ful writ­ing tips? Com­ment and let us know.

5 Small Tips to Enhance Your Fic­tion Writ­ing is writ­ten by Michael DeCesaris

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